Thursday, August 27, 2009

“At least you'll never be a vegetable - even artichokes have hearts.”

In the good old days (read: pre-kids), I would take 5 or 6 books on vacation with me, and read 4 or 5 of them. What I was reading on vacation often required much more consideration than what I was wearing (although I must say, the little shift dress I picked up on a whim at Target the day before we left? PERFECT beach dress. Cool, comfy, and cute enough to go out for dinner or sit around on the deck with cocktails.).

I took 6 books with me this past vacation:
The second 39 Clues book, One False Note
A Ruth Rendell mystery, The Water’s Lovely, which I was already halfway through.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
The latest Charlaine Harris/Sookie Stackhouse novel
Swimming by Nicola Keegan
And Under the Banner of Heaven which I was also already halfway through.

I managed to finish the 39 Clues book one afternoon while the boys were in New Haven with H.
I managed about half of the newest Sookie one evening down the shore, when all the other adults fell asleep.

And that is it.

Man, vacation is not what it used to be.

Even my knitting took a vacation – I got lots done on the Hogwarts scarf while in the car (8 hours to CT, another 5 (DON’T ASK) down to Stone Harbor, then almost 8 back here), but otherwise, after one ridiculous day when 1) I thought I would get to sit on my beach chair and knit, and 2) said knitting got covered in sand, I gave up.

I spent one evening leafing through all the magazines in the beach house; Mrs S reads all sorts of good stuff and gets great catalogues as well. So, of course, I now have a list of other books I have to read….

What I’m reading now:
Little Bee - Chris Cleave. This book was almost too cutesy about itself; the flapcopy reads:
“We don’t want to tell you what happens in this book.
It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it.
Nevertheless, you need to know enough to buy it, so we will just say this:”

And then it goes on to a VERY brief admission that there are two women characters in this book and they meet at one point and then at another. And that is all.
But now that I am drawn into the book (100 pages in), I don’t care. It’s charming and wrenching and beautiful; I might be in love.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. This reminds me VERY much of my all-time favorite childhood book (and one of my just plain favorite books ever), Roller Skates. Calpurnia might be almost as wonderful as Lucinda Wyman.

Plenty: One man, one woman, and a raucous year of eating locally, from the originators of the 100-Mile Diet. The guy is a great writer; it’s a really intriguing topic, and so far, I recommend it.

What I got from the library but may not get to:
A Great and Terrible Beauty. I am not sure I am really in the mood for more vampires just now.
The Scenic Route. This was one of the magazine lists and I jotted it down, but I just happened to see it at the library yesterday. Eh. Seems more like a poor (wo)man’s Eat, Love, Pray, but I could be wrong.

What I bought today (oh, let me go off on a tangent and sing the praises of Half Price Books’ clearance shelves. I almost never even look at the regular priced stuff anymore unless I am looking for something VERY specific. Nevertheless, I did almost buy Ayelet Waldman’s Bad Mother – I don’t care if she is a train wreck, she’s a fine writer; and Gil McNeil’s The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club, which might be one of the most delightful and comforting books I have read in a long time and which reminded me very much of my beloved Hens Dancing):

Motherless Brooklyn - Jonathan Lethem. Because Lethem is a genius, and I need to reread this. I almost put it back, but then I opened it randomly waiting in line, and laughed out loud at the lines I read. Sold.
HomeLand - Sam Lipsyte. Um, why did I buy this? Looks good but can’t remember exactly how or why it crossed my radar.
City of Thieves - MUST get past gross revenge scene to appreciate the rest of this beautiful and haunting little novel.
Geek Love - Katherine Dunn. Ok, ok, I’ll try this AGAIN.
With Bold Knife and Fork - MFK Fisher. Always fun to read about food, from a master.

And what I ordered yesterday:
Knitalong. Because I need to make my little nephew a purple Meathead Hat.

And also, these dance sneakers.
Because I appear to be taking this gym/zumba thing seriously.
If I start wearing off-the-shoulder sweatshirts, someone slap me.

*Amélie Poulain, whoever the heck that is


Badger said...

Dude! Is the newest Sookie any good? It got mixed reviews on Amazon, and I'm a little burned out after catching up on the rest of the series, but I will probably buy this one in paperback eventually if it doesn't suck too badly.

Motherless Brooklyn is one of my top five favorite books EVER, and definitely my favorite Lethem (although Fortress of Solitude is really good, too)(Lethem IS a genius, but a really uneven one, IMHO).

And I CANNOT BELIEVE you bought Geek Love! YOU HATE THAT ONE. (And it's probably number 6 or 7 on my list of Favorite Books Evah.)

Meanwhile I am STILL reading Harris's second Harper Connelly book and wishing Harper were a lot more like Sookie. And that she would stop hugging/kissing her brother so much. Because, ew. Seriously.

BabelBabe said...

the last Sookie is pretty standard Sookie. I like it.

and Harper - well, it gets WORSE is all I will say.

as for Geek Love - the premise is so terrific, I need to get over myself.

Samantha said...

I don't want to burst any of your bubbles but I definitely enjoyed the first half of Little Bee more than the second half. Hope it treats you better.

And I really want to read Ayelet's book - I always love comparing notes with other "bad mothers"!

And I have just started the 39 Steps books with my eldest girl....

ssheers said...

Welcome back!
I used to bring a book for every day of vacation. That's why I got a kindle.
I enjoyed the last Sookie; I seem to be addicted to Sookie.
I just started reading the first Harper - stayed up a little too late last night because I couldn't put it down. It's a bit creepy.

blackbird said...

Amélie Poulain?

You're teasing, right?

Anonymous said...

I cracked and bought the most recent Sookie, and I liked it, but I hate that there isn't another one waiting for me. I haven't read the Harper books, but I'm just finishing up the Shakespeare series, about Lily Bard, and they're not as fun as the Sookie books, but they're pretty good.

BabelBabe said...

ssheers - I sated some of that craving by requesting all the short story anthologies with Sookie stories in them; chek the Wikipedia site for a list. I enjoyed then all greatly, and got some serious backstory on Hadley, etc.

bb - I had to Google her. Seriously. Sad, aren't I?

Samanatha - I AM only halfway thru LB. we'll see. and the 39 Clues books are ok - at least they're better than the fricking Magic Treehouse tripe. Btw, I took the online test and *I*? Am an Ekaterina. How did THAT happen??

Amelia Plum said...

if you start wearing off the shoulder sweatshirts with red heels to zumba i'll slap you. that target dress is adorable. um, i think you can cut yourself a little bit of slack with the reading on vacation - i think you read more in a year than most people read in a lifetime (which just goes to show you that society has gone to hell). I've wanted to read Bad Mother, I heard an interview of Waldman on Fresh Air and if she writes like she talks I think her book would be pretty enjoyable.

Jess said...

I was so annoyed by the Waldman novel I tried to read (something about babies?) that I almost didn't listen to the Fresh Air interview - but the interview was so entertaining, it made her book appealing.

Yeah, I like Calpurnia and Lucinda would get along.

I'm just shaking my head over the Amelie thing. I recognized your title, for crying out loud (although I couldn't quite place it).

Kristin said...

Geek Love is one of my favorite books also...hope you like it better this time! Oh, and I started the Sookie series and I like it quite a bit. Thanks for the recommendation. Perfect for my little bits of time to read right now.

Anonymous said...

I'm reading Little Bee. The scene where she's with her husband and her son walks in on them dressed like Batman had me laughing for ten minutes. "Mommy clean up the poop?" (Dad: "Jesus!") "No, not Jesus- MOMMY."

Caro said...

I saw some Zumba videos. I don't know how you even do that. I would be the woman the whole class laughed at.

Kathy said...

I had problems with Geek Love too -- I never finished it. I figured one day I might pick it up again.